Thursday, January 06, 2005

A balking hawk in full retreat

It's deeply sad to see The New York Times' Thomas Friedman continually trying to contort himself out of his erstwhile liberal hawk position on the need for America to "liberate" Iraq. Friedman, a prophet of the liberal-global late 90s, was described by Slate as "the guy who can make the (reluctant) liberal case for war [and] now a charter member of the balking hawks club." In other words, like his iconoclastic UK counterpart, Christopher Hitchens, he got suckered into the whole Richard Perle-Bill Kristoll-neocon wet dream about turning Iraq, at the point of a gun, into a beacon for Middle east democracy (and, of course, a huge base for U.S. forces). Now it's become clear to almost everyone that, as with pre-World War I deterrence according to Rowan Atkinson's Captain Blackadder, "there was a tiny flaw in the plan. ... It was bollocks!"

Now poor old Tom's been backpedalling furiously for some time. Friedman's been taking it out on Bush, Rumsfeld, and the war hawks for botching Iraq so badly - and he's not wrong there, but he should look first to his own gullibility for allowing himself to be so suckered. Still, the introduction to his latest NYT piece took my breath away:

    Each day we get closer to the Iraqi elections, more voices are suggesting that they be postponed. This is a tough call, but I hope the elections go ahead as scheduled on Jan. 30. We have to have a proper election in Iraq so we can have a proper civil war there.

So much for "beacon for democracy." Friedman now thinks they'd better just get on with their bloody civil war which is now inevitable anyway, and maybe - maybe - some sort of democratic system will emerge from the rubble and carnage. Or not. He certainly doesn't sound too optimistic. Apparently we're left with the hope that the Iraqis will somehow end up fighting for democracy, rather than fighting each other. He concludes: "Elections are the only way to find out. Or, as Rumsfeld might say: You go to elections with the country you've got, not the one you wish you had - because that is the only way to find out whether the one you wish for is ever possible."

Good luck with that, Tom.


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